Monday, May 19, 2008

The 'Publicization' of Geodata

Check out the commentary to this recent post by James Fee, a revealing and informative thread.

The post comments on Google and ESRI joining forces to allow indexing of ArcGIS Server services by Google, ultimately exposing those services to anyone who crawls the web. James Fee asks the question: “how do you monetize your information in such a world?”

Responses are mixed, from:

1. things won’t change too much:
‘I suspect that we won’t be seeing much change and silos such as the Geospatial One Stop will continue to exist.’
‘The majority of data is not public and will not be published for free….ever.’

2. to feelings of scarcity:
‘We’ve been squeezed by Google (and Microsoft) with their free data layers already. There isn’t any juice left to give away.’
‘Selling data is only possible if you are the one selling to Google. Everyone else expects it to be free. Shame really because it devalues expertise.’

3. to icky feelings regarding new business models:
‘Sell ads, is that what we’ve come to these days?’

5. to the possibility that this is a good thing, and considering opportunities within a new system:
‘Why shouldn’t I be able to use Google to find data, even if it returns links to non-freely available data?’
‘…Working with Google or other distributors to set up a one-click purchase system for geodata together with free samples and an open format.’

The ‘publicization’ of geodata is definitely a hot topic worldwide. In the US, so many of our government organizations already have mandates to make geodata public. This is not so for much of the rest of the world. Europe has set the stage with the INSPIRE Directive, established to create a framework for sharing geospatial data between member states. It emphasizes environmental reasons to share data between policy-makers in member states, and target-users also include citizens of those states, thankfully.

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